New laws about ticket bots

(Last Updated On: January 27, 2017)

Here are two articles about new laws about ticket laws…

Obama Enacted A New Law That Will Make Life A Lot Harder For Ticket Scalpers

by Penn Collins

If you’re a fan of music or sports, you’ve probably been affected by scalping bots without even realizing it. The situation’s a familiar one: Mere seconds after tickets go on sale for a playoff game or big concert, you get the message from Ticketmaster or another brokerage serve informing you that the tickets are gone. You did everything right, but simply can’t explain how it’s humanly possible that a 40,000-person venue can sell out in less than a minute.

Well, what you’re failing to take into account is the “humanly” part. Scalpers have evolved with the times, so rather than manning multiple computer screens or hiring others to click refresh, they’re using scripted programs to get the tickets faster and more frequently than us humans ever could.

The practice achieved widespread awareness following the astronomically high prices for the blockbuster musical Hamilton on Broadway. Tickets there were regularly selling for 15 times their original price. Sick of the practice, Hamilton creator Lin Manuel-Miranda partnered with NY Senator Chuck Sherman to level the playing fields. This week, Barack Obama signed into effect the Better Online Ticket Sales Act (or “BOTS Act” if you prefer your legislation a little more cutesy), which intends to “prohibit the circumvention of control measures used by Internet ticket sellers to ensure equitable consumer access to tickets for certain events.”

It might not be a legacy act by the President, but it’s something that seems to be near-universally supported by both fans of sports and the arts as well as fans of fair business practices:

In a move that may elicit mixed emotions by the customers themselves, Ticketmaster applauded the passage of the act, which criminalizes the use of bots by scalpers, stating on its site:

The passage of the BOTS Act is a critical step in raising awareness about the use of bad bots, but the fight doesn’t end here. We’ve invested millions of dollars over the years to identify and block bots and we’re continuing to build new products to ensure that tickets get into the hands of fans.

Historically, Ticketmaster’s interests have run counter to those of sports and music fans, and they get paid the same if they’re selling to scalpers or fans, so it’s possible, verging on likely, that the company is just seizing the opportunity to ingratiate itself to a customer base it’s repeatedly gouged in a monopolized industry for decades.

The passage of the act itself doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get NFC championship tickets when they go on sale in a month or so, but it does ensure that you won’t be competing with superhuman machines to get a place in line.

Read the BOTS Act in its entirety here.

Here’s the second article:

Congress passes BOTS Act to ban ticket-buying software

Joe Mullin – 12/8/2016, 12:07 PM

Did they compete with the bots to get their tickets?

Mat Hayward/Getty Images


Using software bots to buy concert tickets will soon be illegal, thanks to a bill passed by Congress yesterday.

The Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act makes it illegal to bypass any computer security system designed to limit ticket sales to concerts, Broadway musicals, and other public events with a capacity of more than 200 persons. Violations will be treated as “unfair or deceptive acts” and can be prosecuted by the Federal Trade Commission or the states.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), who sponsored the bill, told The Associated Press that he intends to “level the playing field” for people buying tickets.

“The need to end this growing practice is reflected in the bill’s widespread support,” Moran said.

The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent last week, and the House of Representatives voted yesterday to pass it as well. It now proceeds to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Computer programs that automatically buy tickets have been a frustration for the concert industry and fans for a few years now. The issue had wide exposure after a 2013 New York Times story on the issue.

Earlier this year, the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman completed an investigation into bots. The New York AG’s ticket sales report (PDF) found that the tens of thousands of tickets snatched up by bots were marked up by an average of 49 percent.

“I want the thousands of tickets for shows, concerts, and sporting events that are now purchased by bots and resold at higher prices to go into the general market so that you have a chance to get them,” wrote Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the hit musical “Hamilton,” in a New York Times op-ed in June. “You shouldn’t have to fight robots just to see something you love.”

The Senate took up the matter a few months ago, holding a September hearing at which Jeffrey Seller, the producer of “Hamilton,” testified. Seller told legislators that bots quickly buy up tickets, which are then resold on platforms like StubHub and TicketsNow for big markups.

The National Association of Ticket Brokers, a group of about 200 ticket resellers that do not use bots, supported the act.

“People should not be competing with ticket-hoarding software to make a purchase,” Gary Adler, Executive Director of NATB, said in an e-mailed statement. “We look forward to Congress continuing its work by addressing other practices that harm consumers and the function of an open secondary resale market for tickets.”

NATB emphasized that ticket holds placed by artists, teams, and venues mean that only 46 percent of tickets become available to the public at sale time, “which is the reason events sell out too quickly and lead to frustration over supply and market price.”

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